Thursday, October 28, 2010

Watch Obama Split the Democrats

One of the consequences of a liberal mainstream media is that people are always quick to see potential Republican party splits. Everybody knows that the social conservatives hate the libertarians, and that the liberal RINOs from the Northeast hate the southerners. But what about the Democrats?

Here are a couple of items that came over the transom; they indicate that things aren't exactly copacetic in Dem-land.

Here's Kevin DuJan, a dyed-in-the-wool liberal and supporter of Hillary Clinton. He ain't happy. He really isn't happy. Here is a quote from "An Open Letter to Rush Limbaugh and his listeners."

I don’t think even you understand just how much damage Obama has done to the Democrat Party — to the point where formerly lifelong Democrats like myself, and everyone here at, are actively working to expose the party and literally burn it to the ground for the good of the country.

None of this is being reported in the media, but a Civil War in the Democrat ranks has been raging since May 31st, 2008…a date every Hillary Clinton supporter knows well, because that was the date of the Democrat Rules & Bylaws Committee Meeting where Howard Dean (then-DNC Chair), Donna Brazile, and scores of other Kool-Aid slurping Obama flunkies took off their masks and revealed the full extent of the Leftist coup that had taken over the party. This was the day when the DNC took delegates Hillary Clinton won in Michigan away from her and handed them to Obama (despite the fact he wasn’t even on the primary ballot in that state, because he removed his name when his campaign realized he’d come in third in that race).

In other words, Obama stole the Democratic Party from the Clintonites and they ain't gonna forget any time soon.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that folks like Kevin DuJan are going to be all over the place after the earthquake on November 2.

But here's another indicator. It's purports to expose Obama's governing strategy after the midterms.

The White House plans to test Republicans’ unity and political resolve on three controversial issues: repealing the Bush tax cuts, implementing the deficit commission’s findings, and pushing immigration reform. Obama’s team says that these issues will make for good policy—and good politics, forcing Republicans elected in swing districts to choose between placating Democrats and independents and risking a possible Tea Party challenge in 2012.

Huh, asks Stephen Spruill? Aren't those issues that will unite Republicans and split the Democrats? Republicans are united on continuing the Bush tax cuts, and some Democrats are wavering, particularly the Democratic Senate class that's up for reelection in 2012. The Deficit Commission would be a problem for Republicans if the Democrats ran Congress next year. But they won't, so Republicans can pick what they want to implement. And, of course, they have Rep. Ryan's roadmap which is chock full of strategic ideas for spending restraint. Immigration is great for Democrats when they use it to ramp up the enthusiasm of the Hispanic vote. But it is poison for just about everyone else, including the black vote and the white working class.

I know. You are saying, how dumb can President Obama be? Surely he won't deliberately split his party right down the middle. Maybe he won't.

But we come back to the big hit on the Obama crowd from back in 2008. These guys only know urban politics. David Axelrod is a campaign consultant that has done Deval Patrick in Massachusetts as well as Obama.

The question is pretty simple. Can these Obama guys dig out of the hole they have got themselves into? Can they unite the Democrats and split the Republicans? The portents aren't too encouraging for Democrats.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Lie of Liberation

The central theme of the left since Rousseau has been the theme of liberation. Liberals are going to liberate the secular from the judgment of the Church. They are going to liberate workers from the exploitation of the capitalists. They are going to liberate women from the exploitation of patriarchal marriage. They are going to liberate blacks from the legacy of slavery. They are going to liberate gays from--well it used to be the closet and the fetters of middle-class morality but now it seems to be that liberals are going to liberate gays into the joys of gay marriage.

It's all a lie.

Liberals promised to liberate us from the rigid judgementalism of the pulpit. Now we have the rigid criminilization of--get this--recycling. Some liberation, liberals.

Liberals promised to liberate the workers from the exploitation of the bosses. So they smashed the authentic safety net built up by the workers in the 19th century, the benefit clubs, the friendly societies, the mutual-aid associations, the labor unions, and replaced it all with a system of government welfare of liberals, by liberals, for liberals. And it's broke. Some liberation, liberals.

Liberals promised to liberate blacks from the legacy of slavery. Special privileges would accrue to blacks: affirmative action, multiculturalism, diversity: quotas by any other name. Now something like 70 percent of black children grow up in a single-parent home. The black family, that persevered through centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, and discrimination, has been blasted to smithereens. Some liberation, liberals.

Liberals promised to liberate women from the sins of the patriarchy, to liberate them from unhappy marriages into the joy of personal fulfilment and career. Is that really what women want? To be turfed out of their homes and neighborhoods into the rat race of government health care and education employment? To leave their pre-school children in day care? To dump the fathers of their children for government benefits? No wonder conservative women report higher levels of happiness than liberal women. Some liberation, liberals.

Liberals promised gays to liberate them from the shadow of the closet and the stigma of marginalization. First gays were to be liberated from the confining rules of heterosexual fidelity, free to love who they chose. Then gays were to be offered all the joys of marriage because, after all, if you loved someone you ought to be able to marry them. What a lie. What a double lie. There is no law and no liberal cultural bullying that can liberate gays from the fact that homosexuality is a marginal "life-style." It is not, and can never be, the mainstream of life, however you dress it up. Some liberation, liberals.

The facts of life, said Margaret Thatcher, are conservative. And the facts are that every group that liberals have seduced with the promise of liberation has ended up, or looks to end up, like the proverbial victim of the one-night stand. Used and abandoned.

The lesson of history is clear. When the politician comes calling with a seductive story about your horrible exploitation and the wonderful vision of liberation available in return for your vote, don't believe him. All he wants is your vote so he can get his hands on the levers of power. He'll toss you a bone or two, but eventually he'll tire of you and go onto another lover.

And what will you do then, poor thing?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reality 101 for Nov 3, 2010

Politics is always an argument about "reality," in the modern sense of the approved point of view. Let's get one thing clear, writes Timothy Dalrymple. The Tea Party isn't brand new, whatever liberals say.

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this before: “If the Tea Party activists were really upset about spending, where were they when Bush was running up the deficits?” The alleged inconsistency -- that conservatives were perfectly content with big government under Bush but are outraged now -- is a key component of the liberal argument that the Tea Party is actually driven by more nefarious motives.

Plenty of conservatives were unhappy with Bush's spending. But nobody gave them no never-mind. But we reality-based chaps are going to have to hammer this out, again and again. Because liberals will do anything rather than admit that the tide had turned and that they must now take a back seat in the political bus.

My version of reality aligns with Dalrymple.

Back in the 1990s under the Gingrich Congress, spending was not cut, but the rate of increase was sharply decreased. The result was a small federal budget surplus in 1998. But then the political tide changed. People started to think: wow, things are getting better. Maybe now it was time to open the spending spigots a little and do the things we couldn't do when the deficit was threatening to eat us alive. So when George W. Bush ran he ran as a "compassionate conservative," and supported big-government initiatives like No Child Left Behind and Medicare drugs. Conservatives hated this, and I hated it too, although I understood that any Republican would have to run like that. The stern budget-balancing politics of the early 1990s had run its course.

When the Democrats ran in 2006 and 2008 they ran as budget balancers. Nancy Pelosi vowed "no new deficit spending" in 2007.

So nobody can really be surprised that a conservative anti-spending movement got started in 2009 the moment that it became clear that the Obama administration was not going to balance the budget but simply open the spigots wide and pump money as fast as possible into the buckets of every liberal interest group in the nation.

Now, of course, we have the mother of all debt problems and the mother of all spending problems and the real problem of an economy that isn't expanding rapidly after the meltdown of 2008. Americans are frightened about big government spending like they have never been frightened in the past and they are right to be afraid.

The question is: what comes next. Do we really do something about spending, which means entitlements, or do we fudge one more time?

That is the point of this election and the election that comes after it.

It is a battle for the hearts and minds of women and minorities. White men have been persuaded about the follies of big government for some time. No surprise there. White men are the people expected to pay for a big government that counts women and minorities as its darlings.

There comes a time in the trajectory of every minority when it ceases to respond to the tune of big government and its patronage. It says I don't need the political machine to protect me from the big bad world any more.

This truth is the great truth of the modern city and the modern economy. The modern world is not a world of robber barons, whatever left-wing writers say. It is a world that has the least amount of robber barons in history. All you need to get along is to pay a little attention in school and get yourself a skill and learn to be trustworthy. Then you will thrive.

All we need to do in the years ahead is to unwind slowly all the entitlements and special privileges created in the century of big government. If we can do that America will thrive. If we don't unwind all those privileges then government will default on its debt and the weak and the poor will go to the wall.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Conservatives and the White Working Class

The white working class in America used to be the politician's darling.

First the Republicans had their votes, starting in the McKinley election of 1896. McKinley had helped out union members accused of rioting when a young lawyer and he was a tariff man, favoring high wages.

Then the Democrats won the working-class vote in the chasm of the Great Depression.

But there's a problem about being the toast of the men's club. Once you lose your youthful good looks the men look for fresher meat.

There's a saying that puts it well, and it's not a new idea: Put not your trust in princes.

The white working class has been wandering around in the electoral wilderness now for about a generation. In 1980 they abandoned the Democrats that had led them into a nasty recession and became Reagan Democrats. But somehow the Republicans didn't do it for them, and so they returned to the Democrats to try and kindle the old flame in 2006-08.

Last week The Economist took a look at the white working class and its fickle voting pattern. It is clearly back in the Republican column. But The Economist does not try to deal with the why of it.

The problem with the white working class is the old one. They exchanged their birthright for a mess of pottage. They threw away the authentic social insitutions they created in the 18th and 19th century, the benefit clubs, the friendly societies, the labor unions, in exchange for the promises of politicians.

The politicians told the white working class that they didn't need to do the hard work of learning to thrive in the city. Politicians would force economic justice for them out of the profits of the employers. They would lower the work week, end the competition of child labor, provide education, unemployment benefits, and pensions.

But there turned out to be one problem with all this. The workers didn't get to own these benefits; they were owned by the politicians.

Unemployment? Very nice, but the money all goes to the government. A worker can't save that unemployment tax and then invest it in his own business. Education? Very nice, but working-class people don't benefit much from a system that is oriented towards the professional classes. They would do better to work in their teens as apprentices and go to school occasionally to pick up the odd skill. Pensions? Very nice too, but the government owns the money. Unions? What good has pro-labor law done except destroy the steel industry and the auto industry?

There's an opportunity here for conservatives to work with the working class and get them out of the clutches of the government, to take the money out of taxes and benefits and give them back to the working class. There must be a way to structure this and sell it. There must be a way for the white working class to thrive again.

There's one thing as certain as death and taxes. Today's politician's darling becomes tomorrow's painted bar fly. Because a politician doesn't care about you. He just cares about your vote.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Muslims and the Eternal Fear of Strangers

This week it's Juan Williams getting fired from NPR for voicing the most visceral human fear there is: the fear of the stranger. Earlier in the week it was Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that multiculturalism had failed in Germany with regard to its 3.5 million Muslim immigrants.

In the US, of course, we've been worried about immigrants since before the founding. Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury, was an immigrant and was mistrusted by the anti-federalists for that reason.

Since then the US has never had an era in which it wasn't scared of immigrants. By the mid 1800s it was the Catholic Irish. Then it was Jews and Italians. There has always been a fear of the Negro. Now we are afraid of Hispanics and Muslims.

There is, of course, a rational concern behind the visceral fear. Every new immigrant wave is an invasion of the city by peasants with pitchforks. That is, the immigrants come to the city unprepared for city life. They are socialized for the country life, so people worry whether they will ever "get" how to make it in the city without tearing it down? In the US, scientists say, it takes about a century for an immigrant family to go from immigrant manual workers to doctors and lawyers.

In The New Americans Michael Barone compares the troublesome immigrants of 1900, the Irish, the Jews, and the Italians with their replacements today: blacks, east Asians, and Hispanics. Irish and blacks come from severe oppression; Jews and east Asians from highly literate traditions; Italians and Hispanics from strong family cultures. Today, Irish-Americans, Jewish-Americans and Italian-Americans are almost un-hypenated Americans, but not quite.

Is there anything particularly different today? Well, there is. Today we have the political and cultural elite, our liberal friends, actively encouraging today's immigrant groups in separatism. That will probably slow their assimilation and cause hardship for the groups in question.

But the bigger view that we must never forget is the immense power of our capitalist democratic culture that is working on every immigrant mind every instant. There seems to be safety in the immigrant's cultural ghetto, yet there seems to be opportunity in assimilation. What is a young person to do? The answer is relentless, and you can hear it in the accents of the children of immigrants. They speak idiomatic American and they grow up to live and work in the majority culture they find around them. Many of them "marry out."

What about Muslims?

In recognizing our fears about Islam, as Juan Williams so honestly did, we should not forget the huge fears that Muslims must feel for the survival of their own culture. After all, it is Judeo-Christian democratic capitalism that has swept the world in the last five centuries. And now it looks like China and India, the big holdouts, have decided to join 'em rather than fight 'em. What hope has Islam if the Confucians and the Hindus have given up the fight?

Here's the Big One. In China, the Christians, now over 100 million and expanding at seven percent a year, feel that it is their job to bring Christianity "home to Jerusalem," i.e., Christianize the Muslims. Think of that.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

First ClimateGate, now CopyGate

Talk about the gang that can't shoot straight.

First we had Climategate, the purloined emails from the British Climatic Research Unit headed by Phil Jones. The Climategate emails showed rather clearly that the top global-warming scientists were not doing science. They were doing politics, playing an inside game to discredit climate skeptics and deny them access to scholarly journals.

The Climategate controversy also exposed the evident mediocrity of the scientists engaged in climate science.

Now we have Copygate. It involves Raymond Bradley, a co-author with Michael Mann of the notorious MBH98 Hockey Stick paper that proposed a slowly declining global temperature over the last millennium followed by a sudden and unprecedented temperature rise over the last century.

Bradley complains that the Wegman Report, which critiqued the statistical methods used in MBH98, plagiarized his textbook Paleoclimatology. The argument is not that Wegman failed to reference Bradley but that he glossed whole paragraphs of Bradley's book in his recapitulation of paleoclimatology.

I know what you are saying. What's the big deal? A congressional report like the Wegman Report is bound to copy and paste stuff. It's not as if a report like that is an academic paper or book that is snitching somebody's ideas and taking credit for them.

Now there's a twist on Copygate. It turns out, according to climate critic Steve McIntyre, that Raymond Bradley copied reams of a previous book on paleoclimateology, Tree Rings and Climate by H.C. Fritts, including a number of figures.

It all backs up my growing feeling that, all too often, government-financed scientists aren't up to much.

Certainly the Hockey Stick Team really needs to accept the fact that they just aren't up to playing in the same league as Steve McIntyre.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

No Compromise, Says Rush

Rush Limbaugh told the Republican elite in no uncertain terms yesterday that compromise with President Obama is not the solution.

Apparently the top Republicans are telling major donors that they will work with President Obama for a decent compromise on their differences.

Rush says: No! If top Republicans compromise on principles they will create a third party. 2010 is not 1994, says Rush:

In 1994, Americans were not out of work. Their government wasn't bankrupt. The health care system was not being dismantled... Americans were not flooding town hall meetings... There was no Tea Party movement back then. There weren't a whole lot of political protest rallies numbering in the millions. They had not produced an organic grassroots movement like the Tea Party that could, if double-crossed, create a conservative political party that would bring an abrupt end to the GOP. That was not possible in 1994.

Quite so. But I'd say that it all depends on the results on November 2. If there's a 55 seat GOP gain then we are talking compromise. If there's an 80 seat gain then we are talking major pushback. If we get to a 100 seat gain, then it is: "Mr President, the people have spoken, and they will not be denied. I'd like to compromise with you but the people demand change. Real change. They are saying: Cut the spending, cut the debt, end the bailouts. And that is what we, as the servants of the people, must do.

There's a nice little commentary on the situation here by Frank J. Fleming. You could call it a conversation about suckonomics.

AMERICANS: “So, the economy is pretty bad and there’s high employment. You think you can do something about that?”

DEMOCRATS AND OBAMA: “We can spend a trillion dollars we don’t have on pork and stuff.”

AMERICANS: “No … that’s not what we want. We’d really like you not to do that.”

DEMOCRATS: “You’re stupid. We’re doing it anyway.”

AMERICANS: “That’s not going to help us get jobs!”

DEMOCRATS: “Sure it will; millions of them … though they may be invisible. You’ll have to trust us they exist. And guess what else we’ll do: We’ll create a giant new government program to take over health care.”

AMERICANS: “That has nothing to do with jobs!”

DEMOCRATS: “We don’t care about that anymore. We really want a giant new health care program. We’re sure you’ll love it.”

AMERICANS: “Don’t pass that bill. You hear me? Absolutely do not pass that bill.”

DEMOCRATS: “Believe me; you’ll love it. It has … well, I don’t know what exactly is in the bill, but we’re sure it’s great.”


When you completely ignore the American people it really sucks. And the American people have to do something about it, something that will stick in the minds of politicians for a generation or more.

The only question is, how large a GOP gain in the House will it take to get the attention of the Ruling Class?

I'd say the threshold is somewhere in the range of 80 seats.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Yes We Can -- Cut Government

President Obama is famously worrying about his fellow Americans right now. In tough times, he told the New York Times, when people are scared, "facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time."

The trouble with a statement like that is simple. Everyone thinks they have "facts and science and argument" on their side.

The thing about the president's critics is that we believe that, especially on economic policy, the president is on the side of rabbit feet, superstition and exploded Keynesian science.

Keynesian economics says that, whenever you are in a jam the government should print money and spend more on vital infrastructure. Conservatives say that the science is in on that: it does not work. It did not work in the 1930s and it did not work in the 1970s, and it will not work now.

What is needed now is to cut wasteful government spending and get back to hard money.

Now we have three case studies, thanks to Reason, about three western governments that cut spending and got their national economies on track.

Case 1: US after WWII. Arnold Kling writes that:

Government spending plummeted by nearly two-thirds between 1945 and 1947, from $93 billion to $36.3 billion in nominal terms. [In spite of the Keynesian multiplier] GDP increased almost 10 percent during that period, from $223 billion in 1945 to $244.1 billion in 1947. This is a rare precedent of a large drop in government spending, so its economic consequences are important to understand.

Case 2: New Zealand, 1980s Maurice McTigue writes that:

The government’s share of GDP was 45 percent, unemployment was 9 percent (it would later peak at 11 percent), the top tax rate was 66 percent, and the rate of economic growth was a sluggish 2 percent.

A decade later, New Zealand had one of the most competitive economies in the developed world. The government’s share of GDP had fallen to 27 percent, unemployment was a healthy 3 percent, and the top tax rate was 30 percent. The government went from 23 years of deficits to 17 years of surpluses and repaid most of the nation’s debt.

How was it done? By privatization, reducing civil service by 66 percent(!), "eliminating capital gains taxes, inheritance taxes, luxury taxes, and excise duties," halving tax rates, reducing deductions, making government agency heads accountable, and getting people off welfare.

Case 3: Canada, 1990s. The Liberal Party cut the increase in government spending and as a result "From 1992–93 to 2000–01, Canadian spending on federal programs fell from 17.5 percent of GDP to 11.3 percent." Debt went from 68 percent of GDP to 29 percent of GDP.

The great question facing President Obama is precisely the questions of "facts, science, and argument" relating to the best economic policy for a healthy growing economy.

And frankly, Mr. President, you are on the wrong side. What these case studies show is Yes We Can deal with the problem of a huge government and sluggish growth. The only problem is that it means throwing out everything that you and the Ruling Class believe--as myth, superstition, and self-serving hypocrisy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Obama Behind the Curve

The problem with politicians is that they instinctively want to do the wrong thing. They want to increase spending, inflate the currency, and raise taxes.

There is one occasion when this makes sense, when the politicians are merely a guerrilla group in the jungle fighting a war of liberation. The American version of this is the Revolutionary War.

OK. There's one other occasion when it makes sense. It's when the nation is threatened by another power and has to fight a war.

My point is that the natural instinct of a politician is always the instinct of the guerrilla in the jungle. He needs money, so he requisitions from the peasants in the jungle. He needs to keep his supporters fed and happy, so he spends money on them. If he can, he borrows, up to the limit of the possible.

Obviously, in normal times, a government must do the opposite. It must pay down the debt run up in the previous war and it must forsake the feeding of its supporters for the general good.

Let's express all this in a law.

The instinct of governments is to spend money on their supporters, tax the money of everyone else, and borrow to the limit. The essence of good government is retrenchment in spending, reduction in taxes, and getting out of debt.

Now we see why President Obama is now behind the curve and why the rest of his single administration will be a horror show, not just for him but the whole American people. Let's rehearse the reasons for this:

Spending. Government spending in the 2000s was excessive because the Bush administration spent about $200 billion a year on the war on terror and ran an easy money policy at the same time. After getting over the Crash of 2008 the government needed to retrench on spending. Obama had an opportunity to do this in the winter and spring of 2009 and blame the whole thing on the Republicans. Even his progressive cohorts might have bought that. Instead, he unleashed the stimulus monster, and then the health care monster. That puts him behind the curve.

Taxes. Taxes are needed to fund the national debt, that's for sure, but mostly taxes are a charge upon the income of the American people. The more you raise in taxes, the more you waste the energy of the American people. Raising taxes in the middle of a lack-luster recovery is not going to help the economy and not going to help President Obama get elected. That puts the president behind the curve.

Debt. The only reason for a government to go into debt is to finance a war. Then, of course, it must raise taxes to pay down the debt. The current game of using debt to pay for social programs, and to promise social benefits far into the future is a policy that will end in tears. It will end in government debt default through "rescheduling" and inflation. That puts the president behind the curve.

This weekend I got to read the now famous New York Times Magazine piece on "The Education of a President." It showed to me a president and his inner circle focusing on tactics instead of grand strategy. Maybe they have a grand strategy but they aren't telling. Somehow I doubt it. The chatter in the article is all about the commonplaces of liberal governance: the programs, the legislation, the issues agenda.

But we are past all that now. We are entering a new era in which the shibboleths of the last century will not serve, not at the level of grand political strategic vision nor at the ground game of getting out the vote.

It has been well said that Obama is not a socialist, not an extremist. He is just a conventional liberal with the liberal faith in administrative government as a social model. But Obama and his people, and indeed the whole of liberal America, have no clue about any other vision of government, even when the Tea Party is staring him in the face. That is why the president seems to see himself running a conventional campaign against a conventional rival.

Somehow, I don't see the presidential election of 2012 being a conventional election. Somehow I see 2012 being an election about "America isn't working and liberalism is why."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Moving the Dial

Everyone tells the Republicans that they need to do something to appeal to women and minorities.

But how? There are two ways. You can do it by moving towards them. Or you can move them towards you.

Practical politics, we can assert, is a combination of the two.

The problem is that, until you've done it, the task seems unsurmountable. Take Latinos and blacks.

For Latinos, we are told, the big issue is immigration, and why not. All recent immigrants to the United States want to bring the rest of their family over. But for Republicans, that desire runs up against the fact that we can't just open the gates and let everyone in, and we can't just issue a blanket amnesty for illegal aliens. So how do Republicans reach out?

For blacks, the big issue seems to be racism, that behind every white face hides a southern sheriff. And blacks are heavily invested into patronage politics like affirmative action. Republicans are voters that don't like patronage politics.

Recent history tells us that people become Republicans when they stop thinking of themselves as hyphenated Americans. Yet a century ago, William McKinley won the 1896 election with a Republican coalition of business, labor and urban immigrants against a Democratic coalition dominated by rural, religious, easy money voters. Where did the hyphens go then?

For the last ten years, the Republican Party has been the party of economic conservatives, the religious, the married, the male, the white and the private sector. The Democrats have been the party of women and minorities, the educated elite, crony capitalists, the single, the secular, the moderate, and the young.

Now things are changing. Writes Matthew Continetti, in an article about Sarah Palin:

Over the past two years, Pew and Gallup surveys have tracked the public as it has moved to the right -- not on just one or two issues but on a whole constellation of them. Even on the controversial topics of abortion, guns and same-sex marriage, Palin is not as far away from the center as some suppose. A May 2009 Gallup poll, for example, found that a majority of Americans identified as "pro-life" rather than "pro-choice." In October 2009, Gallup measured record-low support for gun control. The public is divided on same-sex marriage, with about half the country joining Palin's (and Obama's) opposition.

The fact is that political parties are not like armies, directed from the top. They are shifting coalitions of voters, and they respond to changes in the political weather without quite knowing what is going on. The Tea Party movement seemed to come out of the blue and seems to be directed at least in part by a lot of conservative women. Where did they come from? To what extent is the Tea Party influenced by the Koch brothers and Dick Armey? Who knows?

What we do know is that the dial is moving. More people are persuaded by the conservative agenda than two or four years ago. Probably they are not persuaded by conservative ideas so much as frightened by President Obama's ideas and the clear feeling that things aren't working like they used to.

What we can be sure of is that the party alignments of 2100 will be different from the party alignment of 2010, just as the party alignments of 2010 bear no resemblance to the party alignments of 1896.

And anyone that tells you how to move the dial ought to know better. Sometimes you can move the dial; sometimes the dial moves itself. Sometimes the dial even moves you!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


What this country needs is a good website about midterm elections.

Many people have instinctively wanted this, especially since this year we are going into perhaps the most momentous midterm elections in our lifetime.

Through the wisdom of the founders we have had midterm elections regularly every year from 1790 through 2006.

And now we are about to have another one. Wanna take a look? Just click on Here's a look at the most recent midterms for the US House of Representatives:

This year, Republican partisans are looking for a very good Republican year. Here are the best Republican House gainers:

But what about really bad Democratic years (it's not quite the same thing):

Go ahead. Click here and have some fun, er, serious historical research. Click the column headings to change the order of elections. You'll find that alongside each election is a link on the major issue moving the election. If you want, you can look at the Senate results.

As soon as the result are in in November 2010 we'll update the numbers, of course.

I wonder what the big issue is going to be this year?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Journalism vs. Science

One of the principal conceits of our liberal friends is that they are open-minded supporters of science while conservatives are superstitious bigots that persecute scientists.

In fact, of course, all people engaged in politics and religion are in the orthodoxy business. The whole point of politics and religion is the power to define what is allowed to be said.

This emerges clearly from an ambush interview on MSNBC where liberal host Rachel Maddow tries to ridicule Art Robinson, Republican candidate for Oregon's 4th District and scientist, for his controversal views.

First of all, she is shocked, shocked that there's a third-party group spending $150,000 on TV ads in his district. Who are these mysterious strangers, she wants to know?

Then we get to global warming. How could he deny the truth of man-made global warming?

Then it's AIDS. Robinson wrote 15 years ago that government was encouraging the idea that every disease suffered by gays was AIDS. Did he really write that?

Worse and worse. Robinson also speculated that maybe the way to deal with nuclear waste was to dilute it and spray it into the oceans.

Then it's on to hormesis, the idea that less radiation isn't necessarily better, that maybe we need a certain background of radiation to stay healthy.

Maddow unfortunately didn't have time to get to public education. Art Robinson is a noted home-schooler who has published a home-school curriculum, the Robinson Curriculum.

The point of the ambush interview was, of course, to present Robinson as a way-out crank. That's always the way of politics. And it is always the way of government-funded science. There are certain opinions, certain scientific theories, that are beyond the pale, and the whole point of practical politics is to demonize and marginalize people who dare to step beyond the pale.

In other words, in politics, conformism is the name of the game, even for liberals who advertise their non-conformism and their open-mindedness to the world.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

But What Comes Next?

The era of the Third American Republic is coming to an end, writes James V. DeLong in The American. He means we are seeing the end of the Special Interest State. What is the Special Interest State?

Starting in the 1930s, the theoretical limitations on the authority of governments—national or state—to deal with economic or welfare issues were dissolved, and in the course of fighting for this untrammeled power governments eagerly accepted responsibility for the functioning of the economy and the popular welfare.

But the way this new system worked was in a contest of the special interests.

Control comes to rest with those with the greatest interest or the most money at stake, and the result was the creation of a polity called “the Special Interest State” or, in Cornell University Professor Theodore Lowi’s terms, “Interest Group Liberalism.” Its essence is that various interest groups seize control over particular power centers of government and use them for their own ends.

Originally, the Progressives had declared against the rule of the corrupt special interests, the city political machines and the corporate trusts, but under the rule of New Deal liberals, special interests became a feature, not a bug.

The problem is, of course, that "special interests try to convert themselves into moral entitlements to convince others to agree to their claims." That way, the special interests are not hogs in the trough but noble moral activists working for a better world.

But why shouldn't this system go on forever? DeLong counts the ways:

Sheer size The system just gets bigger and bigger.

Responsibility As the government's reach increases, people will blame it for the failures.

Lack of limiting principles There is no principle that says enough is enough. Thus the special interests will keep competing for the moral advantage until the whole system collapses.

Conflicts Eventually the special interests will be competing against each other rather than leaching off the unorganized American people.

Leaders don't get it No leader is indicating that they grasp the problem.

When all these problems go critical we will have a crisis of legitimacy. And then things will change.

Perhaps the Tea Party movement represents the leading edge of the change that is to come. Or perhaps not. DeLong quotes Herbert Stein (father of our beloved Ben Stein).

“If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”

But in the long run, we are all dead.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What Women Don't Want

Liberal online Slate magazine has put one of those tiresome "whither feminism" pieces with a bunch of the usual suspects wondering whether Sarah Palin ought to be allowed to call herself a feminist.

Palin is of course profoundly anti-woman, according to Rebecca Traister:

While she may be a self-identified feminist, Palin's work and thinking is profoundly antifeminist and anti-woman because the policy and the candidates she supports would not help women (besides herself and her hand-picked cohort of Grizzlies) to gain power.

One of the commenters was appalled by the lack of raised consciousness in the current generation of young women:

For me, the most interesting "meaning" of the word [feminism] came from my English comp. classes at a school of pharmacy that draws its students from St. Louis, Kansas City, "out-state" Missouri, and southern Illinois. Virtually all broke out in hives at the mention of the word, and were incredulous that I not only called myself a feminist, and proud of it.

Here's where I think these women go wrong.

First, for women, power is not the most important thing. Nor yet is paid employment. What counts for women is love, love and caring. Feminists have gone to enormous effort to persuade women that power is important and career is important, and they wrecked a couple of generations of women with their political activism.

But the new generation of women is reverting to the mean. Thus money is important to the extent that it makes for a comfortable home and to the extent that it provides for loved ones.

If you want to get the attention of women, don't talk about power, talk about love and relationships.

Secondly, I think that feminists put too much emphasis on the achievement of the movement. The fact is that women have been coming out of the domestic sphere into the public square for the last two centuries, with and without left-wing feminist political agitation. To take a Marxist view, it is the productive forces that create the social superstructure. The fact that it is safe for women to come out of the home, the fact that work is now much less physical and more cooperative, the fact that women have benefited enormously from improved life expectancy, all of these things have propelled women out of the home into the public square.

Conservative women are rising because they understand what most women want, and what they don't want.

What women don't want is to be men. They don't want to be fighting pointless bureaucratic wars in giant organizations and they don't want to neglecting their children while they pursue mind-numbing careers.

The dirty little secret about male careers is that men do it not for money, or power, or glory, but in order to get laid. Men instinctively understand the ancient philosophical notion that, when looking for a man, "girls just want to have funds."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Good News on Government Employment

Yes, I know that everyone is howling about the miserable employment report this morning. But I'm here to say it ain't so bad. Looking at the Household Survey we get this:

It show employment on a reasonable uptrend. Nothing fancy, mind you, but it is something. But now look at this:

It shows government employment on a solid decline. (The big blip is the Census temporary employment.)

But we are clearly seeing government shedding employees. OK, it is very modest. Still, it amounts to 400,000 employees laid off from government in the last two years.

And that is good, because it is releasing people from wasteful government employment.

Even in the short run, it is a plus for the economy because, on unemployment, people are cheaper than when they are working for the government. But better than that, it makes them available for gainful employment in the private sector.

From a broader perspective, I would guess that each extra government employee is a net drag on the economy because, even though they are good people, they are doing harmful things, whether it is educating children badly or breaking up low-income families with welfare or hindering private sector growth with harmful economic regulation, or screwing up the health care industry.

So when you reduce government employment you are releasing downwards pressure on the economy and helping it to grow.

As New Gingrich says, we have a choice this November. We can vote for a food-stamp economy, or we can vote for a paycheck economy. It's that simple.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Gift of Obama

Here is what I wrote about Obama in the moment of his election two years ago.

This is not a moment of hope and change, or a moment that will transform the world. This is just the prelude to new disasters as more and more government programs unreformed for twenty, fifty, or—in the case of public education—over a hundred years run off the road into the ditch.

The reason is simple.

You can’t deliver on hope and change when you have a vast government apparatus eating up 35 percent of gross domestic product and your program is to increase it.

Actually, I recall that my real reason for voting for President Obama was that I felt that we needed the Dems in charge of foreign policy. They'd spent the last eight years barracking (!) President Bush about his stupidity and his cowboy attitude and his lies and his failed war in Iraq. Now they needed to take the controls and actually get in contact with reality. What did they really want to do about radical Islam? The American people and the world needed to know.

Well, now we do know. President Obama has presided over the worst two years in American government since President Carter 32 years ago. His foreign policy is a disaster and his domestic policy is a disaster. His party is going to suffer the worst mid-term defeat in our living memory.

But there is no gratitude in politics. If you want a friend in Washington, said Harry Truman, get a dog. So here we have Michael Barone reporting on Democrats turning on President Obama, the chap that gave them pretty well everything he could, given the limitations of practical politics, and then some.

The nasty truth is that the Democrats of the 2000s wanted to see a total humiliation of Bush's America.

They hoped to see an abject and abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within weeks of the Obama inauguration. They hoped to see a beginning of withdrawal from Afghanistan not in July 2011 but in the early months of 2009. They hoped to see the detention facility at Guantanamo closed and shuttered and the detainees tried in civilian courts or freed to regale the media with tales of torture.

But of course, President Obama can't give them that. His job is to defend the United States and promote its power interests. So he has disappointed the Angry Left at every turn.

This was why I voted for Obama. To force the Democratic ruling elite to confront reality. So far, so good.

I realize now that I expected the Angry Left to become sadder and wiser as Obama tried and failed to give them what they want. Instead they are surly and angry, and they want to take it out on Obama.

Without saying so, Obama has found himself having to teach this lesson to the Adam Serwers of the world. They don't like hearing it. They're keeping their ears plugged up and their eyes defiantly shut. Their MyObama Web pages are inactive and their checkbooks are closed. They've tuned out of the campaign and many of them won't even vote. The president they helped elect -- and the world -- have turned out not to be what they thought.

These folks are delusional. They are too stupid to see that Obama has tried to give them everything they wanted, but the fact is that he can't. If they cannot see that then they need a long spell in the political wilderness. So Job #1 of the Obama Years is complete.

But now we face the bigger question left undone by the Bush years. It is the job of setting a new direction for America in domestic politics. And that means, sooner or later, abandoning the government-centric entitlement state and re-socializing America.

You can call it what you like: a free society, spontaneous sociability, a culture of trust. It all comes down to the same thing. Government is force; politics is power. Society is something bigger, something deeper than mere government.

We are talking about the wail of Scarlett O'Hara: Where shall I go? What shall I do? It's the eternal human questioning after the meaning of life. It grows out of the very nature of humans as social animals seeking meaning in a world whose meaning is a mystery.

And now that liberalism has imploded, it's up to us: conservatives, moderates, recovering liberals. We are America, and this is our moment. Let us work to make sure that we deserve the heavy responsibilities that will be shortly ours.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Democrats' Ethnic Split

Never mind that Democrats are splitting between their left-wing progressive elitists and their more moderate wing. There's also trouble on the ethnic front, as the fighting Irishman, Pat Buchanan, observes. Sure, the Democrats are going to benefit from the minoritization of whites as non-whites become a larger and larger proportion of the electorate.

Yet, within the Barack Obama coalition -- over 60 percent of Asian-Americans, 68 percent of Hispanics, 78 percent of Jews, 95 percent of blacks -- fissures and fractures have become visible, not only along racial and ethnic lines, but along issue and ideological lines.

Asian Americans are fracturing over Affirmative Action; Jews are fracturing over support for Israel; blacks and Hispanics are dividing over patronage and turf.

Actually, I think that too much can be made of this. The key factor in splitting people off from the Democratic Party is the hyphen. When people stop thinking of themselves as hyphenated Americans, but just Americans, that's when they are ready to become Republicans.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this effect is starting in the black community. We've seen blacks calling themselves "Americans" at Tea Party rallies. We are also seeing black candidates running for Congress as Republicans. There's Allen West, who's a retired army colonel running in Florida's 22nd District. And today's poster boy is Ryan Frazier, running for Colorado's 7th District. According to his campaign site:

Ryan Frazier is a husband and father of three, a military veteran, a small businessman, an elected representative, and a co-founder of a pre-K through 8th grade public charter school.

They don't get more Republican than that.

The biggest reason that keeps ethnics in the Democratic Party is the feeling of being an embattled minority. When you feel like that you belong in the Democratic Party, because the Democrats provide an institutional framework for people that feel threatened by the larger society.

Sooner or later, the members of ethnic groups discover, one by one, that it's safe to go into the water. That's when they leave the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, it can't hurt, as Pat Buchanan point out, that the coming age of austerity makes it difficult for Democratic bosses to share out an expanding pie among their hungry clients.

When the pie is expanding, everyone can have a larger slice. The crisis of the Party of Government, however, is that we have entered an era where most Americans distrust government and many detest government. Second, with the national debt surging to 100 percent of gross domestic product and a third consecutive deficit running at 10 percent of GDP, we are entering a time of austerity, a time of shared sacrifice.

How will a period of austerity play out? Let's face it: nobody knows.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Watching the Democrats Split

One of the disadvantages of the MSM is that they are always looking for the Republicans to split, but never notice the Democrats splitting until the chasm is right in front of them.

Thus it is left to The New York Times crypto-conservative Ross Douthat to point out that, usually, the Democrats are split into a left wing and a moderate wing.

On one side was the liberal left — populist in economics and dovish on foreign policy, in favor of lavish spending programs and suspicious of big business, and hostile to any idea that seemed to give an inch to the conservatives.

On the other were the moderates and centrists — pro-market and pro-Wall Street, inclined to tiptoe rightward on issues like crime and welfare, and hawkish about deficits and dictators alike.

In the special conditions of 2005-2008 these two factions were able to come together, mostly because they hated President Bush.

Unfortunately, President Obama has not kept the two sides together. Indeed,

Obama has managed the more difficult feat of alienating both of them at once.

The party’s centrists, from Blue Dog Democrats to Wall Street, insist that he’s turned out to be far more liberal than they expected. The health care bill was too expensive. The deficits are too big. He’s been too hard on business interests, and on Israel. And what happened to bipartisanship?

On the left, meanwhile, Obama is deemed a disappointment for all the things he hasn’t done. The stimulus should have been bigger. The financial reforms should have been tougher. He should have withdrawn from Afghanistan. He should have taken the fight to the Republicans, instead of letting them obstruct.

This leaves President Obama with a single way out of his political problem. He must "unite his party around their common fears." That is French for tearing the country apart.

You don't get your average MSMer figuring that out.

This has to mean that the current polls underestimate the defeat that the Democrats will suffer in November. The Weekly Standard's Jay Cost looks at the polls--in what we might call a "technical analysis"--and determines that whatever way you look at the numbers, the Democrats are in trouble.

But his analysis uses turnout models that don't differ very much from most recent elections. The fact is, he admits, that the closest turnout model is Virginia in 2009. It produces a ten point lead for Republicans.

The only people who can recall a result so pro-Republican are nonagenarians, as nothing like this has happened since 1928. How many seats this would produce is very hard to say, but I’ll put it this way: Republicans picked up 52 seats in 1994 with a +6.7 win; a +10 win should produce more than 52 seats, perhaps many more.

And Jay Cost is not trying to impress any "fundamental analysis" on his results. What does it mean to turnout if the Democratic Party is split and discouraged and Democrats continue sitting around and blaming each other as they have started to do?

The only thing to do is quote Ronald Reagan: "You ain't seen nothing yet." I'm still holding out for an 80 seat Republican pickup in the House.